It seems a very long time ago when the brutalities of Saddam Hussein held the people of Iraq under an oppressive grip of control and violence. In the years between the Persian Gulf War (1990-91) and the US invasion of Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom 2003), many of those atrocities were documented and publicized for the world to see and know about the savagery of Saddam Hussein.
One victim of Saddam Hussein’s torture, Dr. Hussain Shahristani a nuclear scientist, told about his ordeal in Iraq’s prisons:
“They tie your hands behind your back and hang you by your hands. After a few minutes, the pain in your shoulders is unbearable. They keep beating you and giving you shocks with electric cattle prods on your genitals and other parts of your body. When you break into a cold sweat, it means you are about to lose consciousness, so they take you down. They keep on doing this day and night. You sleep for a few minutes between torture sessions.”
- See also: Tales of Saddam’s Brutality
Brutality in Iraq After Saddam
The fall of Hussein led to new victims and new tales of torture and brutality in Iraq. Much of this culminated in the rise of ISIS.
The world became familiar with beheadings, prisoners burned alive, women sold into slavery and a host of depravities from Iraq to Syria that defined the nature of this wicked organization that arose from the ashes of Iraq’s destruction.
It appears the depravity has not ended though. ISIS is nearing its end as a political and military organization (although it may persist as an idea), but that ending continues to tell the tales of brutal and inhumane acts of wickedness that boggles the mind.
Brutality in Iraq Continues
Most recently, stories of children with links to ISIS now being tortured by Kurdish and Iraqi security forces have been made public.
In January Human Rights Watch issued a report detailing how Kurdish forces were using torture in the interrogation of boys ages 14-17. Methods of torture included electric shock and beatings. According to Human Rights Watch, the torture was used to produce confessions of the boys’ involvement with ISIS. At least some of these confessions were suspected to be false. The children confessed to being members of ISIS simply to bring their interrogation and torture to an end.
More than 1,500 children suspected of being former members of ISIS are being held by Iraqi authorities. Similar to previous reports, some of these alleged former child members of ISIS were members only for a few days as ISIS swept through their town, or not a member at all. There are reported confessions brought out through torture that were made simply to stop the beatings.
Many are concerned as the ISIS organization fades away a new dawn of revenge tactics within Iraq are being taken by the leading Shiite forces against Sunnis. These children are among the many victims being identified.
In the last week as the final stand of ISIS in Syria has begun to disintegrate, 300 new prisoners were handed over to the Iraqi security forces, most of these were women and children.
Child Soldiers and Victims
There were in fact children included in the ISIS organization, often used for brainwashing and propaganda efforts by the sadistic jihadists.
But encountering child soldiers is not a new phenomenon to warfare and there are established rules and international laws regarding how they should be dealt with. Torture is not included among these standards. The primary goal is the capture and rehabilitation of child soldiers.
The report from Human Rights Watch and additional reports from the Washington Post suggest this is not happening.
In December 2017, The Washington Post observed several court sessions in which Iraqis and foreigners were sentenced to death in hasty trials. Children were routinely brought to the court, blindfolded and handcuffed, with adult suspects. The Post was barred from attending the children’s trials, with court officials citing privacy concerns.